The Original Growler

The 2014 Original Growler: May 24-25, 2014 - Gunnison, Colorado

  • Brought to you by Gunnison Trails and presented by Ergon and SRAM. The Original Growler is the primary fundraiser for Gunnison Trails, a Colorado 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Gunnison Trails is dedicated to maintaining and expanding the single track experience in the Gunnison area including working toward building the Gunnison to Crested Butte trail. All proceeds from the Original Growler benefit Gunnison Trails.

The Half-Growler is sold out for 2014. You can register for the Late Bus 32, which is a one-lap race that will take place along with Sunday’s Full-Growler. The price is the same as the Full-Growler and there will be no awards for achievement in the Late Bus 32. However, we will compile and post overall results with times and finishers will receive the same finishers schwag as the Half-Growler riders. The course is exactly the same as the Half-Growler. 

Wait list for the Half-Growler: If you’d like to be put on a wait list for Saturday’s Half-Growler, please send an email to: Half-Growler wait list riders are chosen by random drawing and organizational discretion.   There is no priority based on when we receive your email. The surest way to be able to check out the Growler is to register for either the Full-Growler or the Late Bus 32, both of which take place on Sunday May 25th. 


  • The Original Growler is for experienced mountain bikers only. Riders must possess the skills and judgment necessary to assess difficult and challenging trails and roads and negotiate them in a safe manner. NO BEGINNERS, PLEASE! For comparison, the general character and difficulty of the trails and roads in the Original Growler is similar to those of the BLM Mack Ridge Trail System near Fruita, CO: Mary’s Loop, Lion’s Loop, Horsethief Loop, Steve’s Loop, etc. 


Registration opens November 30, 2013.  Register at by clicking HERE

As in 2013, we will no longer be offering refunds. The Growler is all about raising money for trails so before registering, please be certain that you are comfortable making your entry fee a donation to the trails of the Gunnison Valley in the event that you:

    • Forgot to train
    • Your aunt Edna decides to get remarried that weekend
    • You eat #$%& on your bike and get hurt
    • Cannot ride in the Growler that weekend for any other reason

**As Gunnison Trails is a 501c3, your entry fee will be 100% tax deductible in the event you cannot make it. Thanks for supporting trails!

2013 Photos are here!

Full Growler Photos Half Growler Photos

To search. you need to enter bib number and either 2013FullGrowler or 2013HalfGrowler.

  • Saturday May 24, 2014, The Half-Growler 32-miles (limited to 350 riders)
  • Sunday May 25, 2014, The Full-Growler 64-miles (limited to 350 riders)



Registration opens Nov 30, 2013 / Online Registration only at:

Each day of racing is capped at 350 riders.

The 2014 entry fee is $79 for the Half-Growler and $99 for the Full-Growler and for the Late Bus 32. Also expect to pay a small fee to the good people at


Racer Check-In is Friday May 23rd from 3pm to 9pm n Webster Hall, east of the start/finish in downtown Gunnison on the SW corner of Iowa and Virginia. Check-in is for Half and Full Growler riders. All riders must be present to sign a waiver. Sorry, no race day check-in.

Saturday May 24th from 1pm to 9pm also at Webster Hall for all Full-Growler riders. All riders must be present to sign a waiver. Sorry, no race day check-in.

The Original Growler is a BYOB Race: Bring Your Own Bag. We try to eliminate waste and clutter by not providing you with any spiffy disposable or reusable bags that nobody needs. Please bring your own, preferably filled with non-perishable food items for the Original Grower Food Drive. Last year we killed it with this and our local food bank was forever grateful for your generosity. NOTE: The food drive idea was blatantly lifted from our friends at Epic Rides in Arizona.


Saturday May 24, 2014 The Half-Growler. *THE HALF-GROWLER WILL START AT 9AM* A 32-mile, epic single-lap race. Field limit is 350 riders. Entry fee is $79 and includes a ton of singletrack, well-stocked aid stations, a t-shirt, post-race party in downtown Gunnison including a meal and beverages and finisher’s awards. HINT: Lots of locals prefer the Half-Growler because they know just how hard the Full-Growler is.

Sunday May 25, 2014 The Full-Growler. 64-miles; two laps; and also the Late Bus 32. 32-miles; one lap. *THE FULL-GROWLER and the Late Bus 32 WILL START AT 7AM* Total field limit is is 350 riders. Entry fee is $99 and includes double a ton of singletrack, well-stocked aid stations, a t-shirt, post-race party including a meal and beverages and a finisher’s award. The Late Bus 32: A one lap race within the Full-Growler on Sunday May 25th. We will track and post results, including time, for the Late Bus 32. The Late Bus 32 might be right for you if you want to race the same day as your friend or significant other who is tackling the Full-Growler but you know that you’re more of a Half-Growler kind of rider; or, the Half Growler sold out before you got around to registering and you still want to experience the amazing trail riding of The Original Growler. Late Bus 32 finishers still get Half-Growler finisher’s schwag, party, meal, etc. There will be no individual or age group achievement awards (other than finisher’s awards) or rankings for the Late Bus 32, however.


The Original Growler is for experienced mountain bikers only. Riders must possess the skills and judgment necessary to assess difficult and challenging trails and roads and negotiate them in a safe manner. NO BEGINNERS, PLEASE! For comparison, the general character and difficulty of the trails and roads in the Original Growler is similar to those of the BLM Mack Ridge Trail System near Fruita, CO: Mary’s Loop, Lion’s Loop, Horsethief Loop, Steve’s Loop, etc.

Each day of racing at the 2014 Original Growler is capped at 350 riders. We could easily start 500 or more but there’s a ton of singletrack out there, much of it either fast or technical. Too many riders on course at once is not conducive to quality racing and riding.

Both days of racing will in downtown Gunnison by shotgun blasts. As per tradition, we will be flip-flopping the direction of travel on the course. Every trail is a completely different experience when ridden the other way! This year we’re going counterclockwise.


The HALF-GROWLER – Saturday May 24, 2014; 9AM START The Half-Growler is a one-lap race of around 32-miles of trailriding bliss. The winning time is expected to be just under 3 hours. Take a look at last year’s Half Growler results to see what went down and by whom. While it’s called a race, this is an exceptional course to ride for fun at any pace.

The FULL-GROWLER – Sunday May 25, 2014; 7AM START The Full-Growler is two laps and 64-miles of singletrack heavy fun. Alex Grant was last years winner in 5:17:25.  Click here for those results. Heard on the street: “But the Full-Growler is only 64 miles. I’ve done a bunch of hundies, how hard can it be?” Give it a try and find out, just bring your A-game. Once again, it’s called a race but plenty of riders take their time (maybe even take some pictures) and smell the sage and enjoy the challenging and ever-changing nature of the trails at Hartman Rocks.


NOTE: We’re trying to finish both days of racing back in town. That is timed back to town, jettisoning the untimed ride back from the base of Hartman Rocks. But doing this safely is a challenge. Read below but know that we are trying to change this up so that you’ll race all the back to downtown Gunnison. No promises, but….

Both the Half and Full-Growler will start and finish in downtown Gunnison at IOOF Park (AKA, race HQ) on the NE corner of Main and Virginia. That makes for about 5 miles of dead flat pavement, 2.5 at the beginning and 2.5 at the end. Total distances are about 32 miles for the Half-Growler and 64 miles for the Full-Growler. The start on the pavement is neutral behind law enforcement and may be slow or fast. The finish on the pavement is untimed but mandatory (see below for further details). Racing begins for real when you hit the dirt at the entrance to the Hartman Rocks base area. The course is about a 30-mile loop on your BLM public lands that brings riders back to the Hartman Rocks base area, where the timed finish/lap line is located.

Please, no parking on Main St. or in the first block off of Main St. These are two-hour parking spots and you could be ticketed. There’s plenty of street parking adjacent to the finish that’s just one block or more off of Main St. A great parking lot is two blocks west of the start across the street from the Post Office.


The well-marked, counterclockwise course of around 30 miles contains loads of classic and challenging Gunnison singletrack – trails like Skull Pass, Top of the World, Rattlesnake, Ridge Trail and Joshos. You won’t be bored! The lap climbs around 4,000 vertical feet (but never more than a few hundred in one shot.) The Half-Growler and lap 1 of the Full-Growler use a slightly different starting configuration to spread the field out. Please study the map for details.

PLEASE NOTE: Parts of the Original Growler course are closed until May 15th to protect the threatened Gunnison Sage-grouse. If you preride the course prior to May 15th, please honor and respect this seasonal closure for wildlife. Many thanks!

The Original Growler course contains difficult, technically demanding, and of course, potentially dangerous, singletrack trails, double-tracks and roads. Road and trail hazards are not marked. Riders must possess the judgment and experience necessary to evaluate the roads and trails of the Original Growler and determine the safest manner in which to negotiate them.

BLM Public Lands
All roads and trails used in the Original Growler are also open to the public and participants don’t have special preference out on the trail. Participants need to be prepared to encounter, yield to and be courteous to humans on foot, on horseback, on mountain bikes (not racing), on motorcycles, on ATV’s, in full-size vehicles, hovercraft, etc. Cattle may also be encountered while racing in the Original Growler. This is standard policy for events taking place on BLM public lands.

The Original Growler course is an isolated, backcountry route that includes numerous sections located in steep and rugged terrain where participants may be hours from medical attention and/or evacuation in the event of a serious mishap. Western State Colorado University Mountain Rescue Team provides emergency services for the Original Growler. The long-distance nature of these races, both the Half and Full-Growler, emphasizes the importance of adequate preparation, physical fitness and sound decision-making on the part of each participant


You will most likely get wet. The Original Growler is an all weather race. It poured rain in 2009 and the race went well, all things considered. Most of the soils are non-clay, decomposed granite. The race organization and/or the BLM may cancel the race do to weather but all riders need to be dressed appropriately and prepared for the conditions on race day.


There will be well-stocked aid-stations generally at miles 15, 17, 30 (Hartman Rocks base area), 43, 45 and 61 (Hartman Rocks base area). Feed zones will be well stocked with food. We will have energy beverage and water available for you to fill your bottles and bladders. You can also take feeds anywhere on the course from anyone at anytime and you never know where locals may decide to put an impromptu aid station/margarita party! As in years past, bacon and ice cold Coco-Cola may be available on course.


There will be basic technical support at the aid-stations including at the Hartman Rocks base area. This will include lube, a few tubes and tires, some tools and floor pump. There most likely will not be a full-service bike shop on course.


Full Growler riders will be able to leave a small cooler or duffel bag at a designated spot near the starting line in downtown Gunnison. We will transport your bag to the lap line (Hartman Rocks base area.) These can be filled with whatever you think you might want to have at the half-way point of the race: food, drink, clothing, tubes, tools, etc.) Once you have gone through it and are back on course, we’ll transport it back to town for you. Important: Full-Growler riders: the lap line at the Hartman Rocks base area is always a confusing place. Check it out beforehand if possible. As you finish your first lap, be as aware as you can and pay attention to signage and/or course marshals trying to direct you to: the drop-bag location; the crew-feeding area; the neutral aid-station; or through the timing line to head out for your second lap


NOON is the strictly enforced cutoff time to head out on the second lap for Full Growler riders.


Again, we’re working on a timed finish all the way back to downtown. If we cannot pull this off, what you read below is how it will go down.

The timed portion of the Growler is complete when you cross the timed finish/lap line on the dirt at the Hartman Rocks base area. Half-Growler (32-miles) racers finish after one lap; Full-Growler (64-miles) racers finish after two laps. Even though you have crossed this line and your time has been etched in stone, you are not finished! By rule, to complete the Original Growler, you must ride back to IOOF Park in downtown Gunnison and cross the symbolic finish line there. This is also where you’ll find real food, real drink, music, results and a pleasing, post-race atmosphere.

You have until about 5-6pm to cross this finish line in the park, so don’t rush. Once you cross the timed finish line at the Hartman Rocks base area, grab some food and drink, chill a bit in the hot sun and then ride back to the park at a careful, leisurely pace. If someone is too blown to ride back, we’ll help as needed. Most will be able to sufficiently recover to ride these final couple of flat miles back to town for some exotic fare and frosty beverages at the ongoing Growler Grub Soiree. If you know the area, ride back to the park any way you like. If you’re not familiar with the Gunnison area, a well-marked route will get you back to IOOF Park. You will encounter traffic, intersections, stop signs and two stoplights on the way back to the park. Please obey all traffic laws.

Remember, this is an un-timed section of the race. Also, be careful as you enter the park for the crossing of the symbolic finish line as some sidewalk riding is possible and the area is sure to be busy with people, including non-cyclists and kids. We know un-timed sections are unusual, but there are issues and concerns about parking and crowding at the Hartman Rocks base area, so this is the solution. Plus, it’s never a bad thing to stay out of our cars if we can, not to mention, it’s a great warm-up and cool-down.


Once you’re done and back in downtown at the finish line, you’ll be smack-dab in the middle of the Growler after party. We have food and beverages (please drink responsibly) for you and eventually, we’ll do awards. We suggest that you put your bike away securely (you might want to bring a lock for peace of mind or get it back to where you are staying or on or in your car), clean up as you like and kick back and enjoy the post-race glow and feeling of dead legs.

  • Half-Growler Party on Saturday begins around 1pm with Awards around 3pm.
  • Full-Growler Party on Sunday begins around 1pm with Awards around 5pm.

THERE WILL BE NO REFUNDS. Once you are registered, you have contributed your entry fee to Gunnison Trails. Whether you race or not, your money is put to work on the trails.


Categories are Men and Ladies: Under 20; 20-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60+; Open Singlespeed

Gunnison Trails holds some starting positions for sponsors, partners and race organization discretion.


  • The Sage Burner Trail Running Race will take place on Saturday, May 17th, 2014. Check out their website for details.